Underwood Leads Members of Congress in Effort Urging the President, House and Senate Leadership to Include Health Care Affordability Act in Next Coronavirus Relief Package
WASHINGTON— Today, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14) led 21 members of Congress in a Congressional effort advocating for the inclusion of the Health Care Affordability Act in the next emergency coronavirus relief legislative package. In the letter to the President and House and Senate Leadership, Underwood and colleagues urged prioritization of policies to lower the cost of health care for individuals and families across the United States.
“Delivering on President Biden’s American Rescue Plan by including the Health Care Affordability Act in a COVID-19 legislative package would increase the generosity of premium tax credits across all income levels, eliminating premiums for lower-income Americans, reducing net premiums by up to thousands of dollars per year for millions of Americans, and extending advanced premium tax credits to individuals and families with incomes above 400 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) to ensure no one must pay more than 8.5 percent of their income for health insurance,” members wrote.
Underwood’s Health Care Affordability Act would extend coverage to millions of uninsured Americans and lower the cost of premiums for millions more, saving northern Illinois families and households across the nation hundreds or thousands of dollars. The legislation, which passed the House in the 116th Congress, was included in President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.
A copy of the letter can be found here and below.
February 2, 2021
The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear President Biden, Majority Leader Schumer, Minority Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, and Minority Leader McCarthy:
Thank you for your leadership in developing additional emergency coronavirus relief legislation to meet the urgent needs of the American people. As you negotiate this legislation, we write to urge you to prioritize lowering the cost of health care to those without job-based health insurance by expanding and increasing the value of advanced premium tax credits to lower or eliminate health insurance premiums, ensuring no one pays more than 8.5 percent of their income for coverage. We applaud the inclusion of this policy in President Biden’s American Rescue Plan and supported its passage in the House of Representatives in the 116th Congress. This policy was reintroduced this Congress as H.R. 369, the Health Care Affordability Act of 2021.
In the midst of a once-in-a-century health crisis, it is more important than ever to ensure that every American has affordable care. By increasing the size of and expanding eligibility for premium tax credits, the Health Care Affordability Act would reduce health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs for households across the United States, newly insuring millions of Americans and lowering premiums for millions more.
The anxiety felt by American families across the country due to unaffordable health care has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic: with the majority of Americans covered by employer-sponsored insurance (ESI), job losses over the past year have threatened access to care for millions of people. The Commonwealth Fund estimated that as of June 2020, as many as 7.7 million workers lost jobs with ESI. Given that many of these workers’ dependents were also covered through the ESI plan, 14.6 million Americans could have lost coverage in the early months of the pandemic. Although some unemployed people might become eligible for Medicaid, others will turn to the Marketplace for health insurance, underscoring the importance of ensuring that affordable Marketplace plans are available in every county across the United States.
More than 32 million Americans remain uninsured, and the vast majority report that the main reason why they are uninsured is the cost of coverage. Even among insured adults, premiums and out-of-pocket costs are placing significant financial strains on individuals and families. Currently, a benchmark plan could cost a family of four earning $110,000 per year more than $17,000 in annual premiums. In some markets, a 60-year-old couple earning $80,000 spends more than 28 percent of their household income on insurance premiums. The American people are counting on us to deliver the relief they need.
Delivering on President Biden’s American Rescue Plan by including the Health Care Affordability Act in a COVID-19 legislative package would increase the generosity of premium tax credits across all income levels, eliminating premiums for lower-income Americans, reducing net premiums by up to thousands of dollars per year for millions of Americans, and extending advanced premium tax credits to individuals and families with incomes above 400 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) to ensure no one must pay more than 8.5 percent of their income for health insurance.
For the lowest-income adults whose income is above the threshold for Medicaid eligibility, the Health Care Affordability Act would reduce their Marketplace premiums to $0 annually, while other households would see savings of thousands of dollars per year. A 55-year-old single adult with an income of $35,000 would save an extra $119 per month on insurance premiums. A typical family of four with an income of $85,000 who currently qualifies for APTCs would see their premiums reduced by $228 per month, and a typical family of four earning $110,000 who currently does not qualify for tax credits could see their premiums reduced by more than $660 per month.
Including the Health Care Affordability Act in the next COVID-19 relief package would extend an affordable option to tens of millions of Americans who remain uninsured, and provide significant financial relief to millions of Americans who currently pay too much for health care. We urge you to include H.R. 369 in the upcoming relief package and we look forward to working with you to advance this critically important policy.